Guest Blogger: Brian Schutt, Owner, Homesense Heating and Cooling
Two Boilers in heating and cooling sounds too cliché to be a reality.
It gets a bit more interesting if you know neither of us are engineers, have never fixed a furnace, and started the company with $1,000. And while our company won’t end up on the cover of Inc. Magazine and won’t be a case study at Krannert, we have grown over 1000% since our first full year of operation in 2010.
Ours is a story of belief and trust.
What we believed, as home owners, was that there had to be a better way to do residential heating and cooling. What we trusted was each other, from a friendship formed as fraternity presidents of Pi Kappa Alpha and Phi Kappa Psi and continued through attending the same church after graduation.
Like many entrepreneurial journeys, ours started with a first step. To quote contemporary philosopher Vanilla Ice, “If there was a problem, yo, I’ll solve it…” The problem we sought to solve was that fact that no one we knew trusted their heating and cooling company. My business partner, Jesse Cross, had a few rental properties he managed and became a go-to for home repairs. Over and over HVAC was a huge issue few had dealt with, and no one enjoyed dealing with.
After a few dozen phone calls over a few years, the opportunity became apparent to him. After a few conversations with me, I agreed on the opportunity. The next step was the perilous one, how do two 20-somethings with a background in finance and marketing, respectively, jump into a highly technical trade with high barriers to entry?
That’s where trust comes in. We didn’t know how we would answer all the questions of how we would do it, we just trusted that if we worked together and stayed committed to our principles that we would figure it out along the way.
At the outset our principles were simple, operate with integrity no matter what, and customers will come back and tell their friends. We’ve elaborated on that over the years, and now have our beliefs captured in the Heart of Homesense, but the core has remained constant.
What I don’t want to do is paint any rosy picture. Anyone who’s built a business knows that the perfectly sunny pathway to success doesn’t exist, and anyone aspiring to start one should know the lack of glamour involved.
While I don’t yet consider Homesense to have reached our goals, I believe we’re on the pathway toward them. Here are 3 takeaways from our 6 year journey that I think have led to our growth that might be helpful reminders for your business or future venture.
1) We don’t know it all. Tennis star Rafael Nadal’s coach summarized his coaching style in the phrase, “stay hungry, stay humble.” Since day 1, we’ve been humbled by how little we, as owners, know about the technical side of our industry. That humility has led to appreciation for our team members, important questions being asked that have shaped our unique process, and a desire to learn from companies that do have qualities we want to emulate.
2) Walk through walls. Whether it’s perseverance or stupidity, it might just depend on the day. But, when starting something that doesn’t exist, you’re going to be faced with a unique challenge every day, we just made the choice that forward was the only direction. We’ve encountered plenty of walls too high to see on the other side, some we’ve gracefully leapt over like Edwin Moses, many more we’ve plundered through like the Kool-Aid man. (For those under 30, you might have to Google those references)
3) When in doubt, pick up a phone. I’ve not yet heard of a business without people involved, and as a result inevitable differences exist. We are imperfect, but have resolved challenges internally and externally through a belief in communication. Whether to better set expectations, or directly resolve an issue, nothing bridges a gap like a direct conversation. In our age of text messages and email, picking up a phone or sitting down face to face have become an overlooked method in ensuring better outcomes.
Brian Schutt is a lifelong resident of the State of Purdue, who graduated from Purdue in 2003. In the few minutes a day he’s not working on his business, he spends time with his wife Tiffany and children Parker and Emerson. To find out more about Homesense Heating and Cooling visit their website www.TrustHomesense.com